So, I’m ankle deep into my very last semester. So far, so good, except that I feel like I spend every spare minute reading and I feel like it is still getting away from me. I’m barely keeping afloat here. But I feel optimistic at the same time.
I’ve never taken five courses at once. I usually have taken 3 per semester, and I have, at times, managed four and done just fine. But five – well, lets just say that the knowledge that the end is only four months down the road is what is staving off any feelings of panic.
What I’m taking:
- Metaphysics: I am probably the most excited about this course, because it deals with the kind of Philosophy I love – it examines the questions that we know we don’t have the answers to about the basic nature of reality. What is substance? What is being? We examine problems of free will, personal identity, the nature of space and time, of mental versus physical. I am additionally excited about this course in particular because it is being taught by my favorite prof. Last semester he gave a talk on some research he has been doing over the last couple of decades on Benjamin Fondane, who is not well known. After the talk I was interested to learn more, but knew I wouldn’t have the time. Well, my prof has gone and structured the course around this guy’s philosophy. So I’m pretty excited about it, even though I suspect that this will be one of the more difficult classes I take.
- Philosophy of Science: This is a fun course where we will be doing that looks at questions like: Science: fact or fiction? Do the facts dictate our theories? Is there any secure basis for our future expectations – or is just a matter of hoping for the best? Is everything relative, or is there always something absolute behind what is relative? Is science the new religion? How do or should scientific revolutions affect our view of science? So, pretty much the opposite of Metaphysics.
- Ethics: Also known as ‘the easy A.’ Or rather, all my ethics classes in the past have been. A little boring though. Too black and white. But I love this prof too, and it is nice to enter into at least one course that I pretty much know exactly what is coming and how it will turn out.
- My Plato DS: I am doing a directed studies course this semester. That means, I’m doing it all by myself under the supervision of a prof – my favorite prof – and I get to look at some relatively little known Plato texts. This course is a huge challenge because I have to meet with my prof once a week and give him an hour-long presentation on what I learned over the week. There is no wiggle room for dropping the ball or falling behind with readings here. Also, these weekly seminar presentations constitute 60% of my mark. I’m used to relying on my essay-writing skills to earn my grades. I’m much less comfortable expressing my knowledge verbally. But if education doesn’t involve stretching my comfort zone, then why bother? Luckily, I’m pretty excited about the course content. I’ve always enjoying reading Plato’s Socratic dialogs and I have the opportunity to study some that are different from what I’ve been exposed to so far. And understanding Plato is a great basis for understanding the development of western thought. After all, “the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato,” -Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality.
- Children’s Literature: This course is a huge sigh of relief – easy reading!!! (not to mention FUN). There is a lot of it – 9 novels and a giant anthology of fairy and folk tales. But it is fun to settle down in the evening with an enjoyable and easy read so it feels like I’m relaxing, but I’m accomplishing something at the same time.
So, that’s what I’m up to these days. I’ll probably be telling you all a lot about Plato in the next while, since I’ll be thinking about his philosophy so much in the next while. Besides, Plato is fun.